August 2013 Conference Board Employment Index Forecasts Moderate Employment Gains

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The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index – which forecasts employment for the next 6 months – again rose moderately in August 2013.

The Conference Board believes future employment growth will likely expand moderately – while Econintersect‘s own employment index is saying that economic pressures should weaken and lead to poorer employment dynamics.

From the Conference Board:

The Conference Board Employment Trends Index™ (ETI) increased in August. The index now stands at 113.54, up from 112.80 (an upward revision) in July. The ETI figure for August is 4.5 percent higher than a year ago.

“The growth of the Employment Trends Index (ETI) in recent months suggests that employment is likely to moderately expand through the fall,” said Gad Levanon, Director of Macroeconomic Research at The Conference Board. “The rapid job growth in the first half of 2013 was faster than we had expected given weak economic activity and only moderate improvement in the ETI. The slowing down of employment in the past two months brings the six-month trend to a more sustainable rate.”

August’s improvement in the ETI was driven by positive contributions from seven of its eight components. The increasing indicators — from the largest positive contributor to the smallest — were Ratio of Involuntarily Part-time to All Part-time Workers, Consumer Confidence Survey® Percentage of Respondents Who Say They Find “Jobs Hard to Get,” Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance, Real Manufacturing and Trade Sales, Industrial Production, Job Openings, and Number of Temporary Employees.

To add context to this index, the following graph compares BLS non-farm payrolls, the Econintersect Employment Index, and The Conference Board ETI. Econintersect uses non-labor and mostly non-monetary economic pulse points in constructing its index, while The Conference Board uses mostly elements of employment data.

Comparing BLS Non-Farm Employment YoY Improvement (blue line, left axis) with Econintersect Employment Index (red line, left axis) and The Conference Board ETI (yellow line, right axis)


The graph above offsets the Conference Board ETI by 6 months. Econintersect sees employment weakening over the coming months.

Caveats on the Employment Trends Index

According to the Conference Board:

The Employment Trends Index aggregates eight labor-market indicators, each of which has proven accurate in its own area. Aggregating individual indicators into a composite index filters out “noise” to show underlying trends more clearly.

The eight labor-market indicators aggregated into the Employment Trends Index include:

  • Percentage of Respondents Who Say They Find “Jobs Hard to Get” (The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Survey
  • Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance (U.S. Department of Labor)
  • Percentage of Firms With Positions Not Able to Fill Right Now (© National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation)
  • Number of Employees Hired by the Temporary-Help Industry (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Part-Time Workers for Economic Reasons (BLS)
  • Job Openings (BLS)
  • Industrial Production (Federal Reserve Board)
  • Real Manufacturing and Trade Sales (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis)

Unfortunately many of these indices are not accurate in real time being subject to at times significant backward revision.

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